Parents of W&M student support scholarships with $1M commitment

Parents of a William & Mary student are supporting scholarships with a $1 million commitment to help ensure that students with exceptional ability have the means to attend the university. The commitment comes from Jody Forsyth and Wilma Quan-Forsyth of Calgary, Canada, parents of Samantha ’15 who is currently studying at the William & Mary Law School.

The commitment will establish the Forsyth Family Scholarship Fund and support the William & Mary Scholars and William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience (WMSURE) programs. It will also support Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Fund.

“Access to affordable higher education is the cornerstone of a fair and just society. With reductions in state funding, we felt it was important to give back and provide opportunities to the next generation of students so that they can access the educational opportunities our generation took for granted,” said Jody Forsyth, who is a member of the William & Mary Foundation Board. “We wanted to ensure that disadvantaged students aren’t denied a William & Mary education due to lack of resources.”

William & Mary Scholars are academically distinguished students who have overcome unusual adversity and/or are members of underrepresented groups who would contribute to campus diversity. The WMSURE program — which is celebrating its five-year anniversary — provides formalized programming, support and research opportunities to William & Mary Scholars, and other students, and encourages them to continue their research pursuits at the graduate level.

“These programs are important to us because they focus on students from diverse backgrounds and provide financial support for many students who are often the first in their family to attend university,” said Jody Forsyth. “It is about supporting young people who come from an environment where education hasn’t been prioritized and making sure there are avenues for them to go to college and achieve their goals and dreams in life.”

“The Forsyths’ gift will help greatly in providing funding to deserving students who might otherwise have missed out on critical learning opportunities due to financial constraints,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for university advancement. “They share our dedication to ensuring access to a William & Mary education for the very best and brightest students. We are most grateful to Jody and Wilma for their extraordinary generosity.”

The Forsyths first came to Williamsburg on a family vacation when Samantha was 11, and they explored William & Mary’s campus. She was hooked from that day. The Forsyths came back every year and each trip solidified her choice to come to the university. She graduated with her degree in history in May and is now attending the law school.

“After more than 320 years, the core values of this university remain intact,” Wilma Quan-Forsyth said. “When we did our research on schools, that came through. William & Mary is a school that talks the talk and walks the walk.”

The Forsyths point to the tradition of success from William & Mary’s graduates. “The university is taking in students and turning out leaders,” Jody Forsyth said. “These kids are taking what they learned out into the world and making a difference. Attending William & Mary is about more than just earning a degree — it is about developing into a person who understands the importance of giving back to his or her community.”